Phew! Spring 2020 was a doozy, to say the very least, for so many in so many ways. Caregivers of kids are now nearing the 4-month mark of miraculously managing the parenting/teaching/working/pandemic-surviving combo – let’s add to that the loss of summer camps and playgrounds, and anxiety-inducing potential Fall 2020 scenarios.
Yet, as the summer sun shines on Prince Edward County (and local farmers and their supporters commence rain dancing), we have much to be thankful for – 55 days and counting without a new Covid-19 case in Hastings-Prince Edward; our courageous and patient local healthcare, retail, restaurant, farm, and government workers making every effort to keep us safe and economically afloat; and our gorgeous, wide open, perfect for physical distancing, outdoor spaces. Here are some ideas for creating much-deserved fun-in-the sun moments and memories with your littles in Prince Edward County this summer.
- Face coverings are now mandatory (with some exceptions, including children under 2) in enclosed public spaces in Prince Edward County, so it’s best to be prepared for potential indoor visits with kids – bathrooms being a prime example! They are also mandatory at farmers markets and most farm stands. Check out Experience Picton’s list of local mask makers and retailers, several of whom make kid-sized ones – contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like some suggestions. Raising A Village – Quinte is providing local families in need with free masks and face shields – contact them for more information.
- Carrying hand sanitizer for quick and easy hand cleaning is another must for heading out with the kiddos – thankfully it is now widely available.
- When deciding on which types of outings might work for your family, take into account how your little companions might fare with the challenge of keeping a minimum of 6 feet from other people.
- Finally, for more info on “the bathroom situation”, here is a handy map of public washrooms from the municipality, and current public health guidance for using public washrooms.
- Pick-your-own experiences (PYO) – Prince Edward County’s PYO fruit and veggie adventures are in full swing – next up, raspberries and blueberries! This year, safety protocols may include assigning one row per party and requiring hand sanitization prior to entering. Also, there may be limitations on the number of young kids/adult – for example, Campbell’s Orchards is asking that there be a maximum of 2 children aged 12 and under per adult, so make sure to verify this ahead of time. Finally, may I suggest bringing a water bottle and cloth or wipes to avoid having to enter washrooms to clean those adorable blue and red faces and hands?
- Campbell’s Orchards in Carrying Place is offering PYO strawberries (almost gone!) and planning to offer peas, black currants, gooseberries later this summer, and tomatoes, apples, and pumpkins in the fall. Though their sweet little playground is currently closed, I highly recommend picking up an apple fritter on your way in and/or out! There are usually a few animals on site to say hello to as well – we communed with some resident chickens in June.
- Laundry Farms just outside of Picton is wrapping up their PYO strawberry season, and raspberries are next! Update August 2020 – the PYO experiences are done for the year but the farmstand is full of delicious produce!
- The Blueberry Patch in Waupoos will be offering PYO blueberries (July 15 – Labour Day) and also has a farm stand with a variety of ready-picked fruit.
- Waupoos U-Pick Blueberries (formerly Little Highbush Blueberries) will be offering “pesticide-limited” blueberry PYO sessions by appointment only this year – Mid-July-end of August. Updated August 2020 – they are now closed for the season.
- Laura’s Blueberry Farm, located close to Sandbanks’ Dunes Beach area, is offering free picking for the 2020 season – they ask that you pick one container for them for every one you take home. Pesticide-free! Update August 2020 – they are now closed for the season.
- Farm stand visits
- Farm stands abound in the County, and visiting them can be a fun way to teach kids about where their food comes from and celebrate the seasons – this helpful harvest chart can help you keep on top of it all! Many offer sure-fire kiddie crowd pleasers on top of their usual offerings – Farmhouse Eats cafe at Hagerman Farms comes to mind – donuts, soft serve, milk shakes, curds, YUM.
- Other farm experiences
- The Curious Goat General Store, a new farm stand carrying a variety of local products, is offering family-friendly 1-hour group “bee experiences” – participants will learn about bees, taste honey, and make a beeswax product to take home.
- Visit the friendly farm animals at the petting zoo across the street from Waupoos Estates Winery & Restaurant! Please read and respect all of the posted rules. It would be unwise to leave without sampling from their extensive array of chocolate, candy, and gelato treats.
- Hops & Heifers is offering 1-hour private “safari” tours to visit their buffalo herd – book tours here and pick up some of their buffalo cheese and meat products at their store.
- Prince Edward County Lavender is another fun family outing ($8/person, kids 12 and under are free), especially when the fields are in full bloom (usually throughout the month of July). You can learn all of the names of different lavender varieties (they are not all lavender-coloured!), and there is lots of room to run around. The store carries some lavender-flavoured treats, including gelato, shortbread, and chocolate bars.
- Sunnydale Farms and Sunflower Fields Ice Cream Shoppe are currently offering access to their sunflower patches (for a small fee), check their Facebook pages for details!
- Farmers’ markets
- The Wellington Farmers’ Market is running on Saturdays from 9-1, but please note that masks are mandatory (except for children under 2) and children “must be attached to an adult or must understand what physical distancing means”. It would probably be wise to park kids who might have difficulty maintaining distance from others in a stroller.
Splish splash and dash
- Beach outings are an absolutely crucial component of our family’s sanity these days. Our tips for safe splashing include arriving (and often leaving!) early and setting up shop a bit further away from parking lots to help keep some space around us.
- Check out our handy lists of County beaches and other outdoor recreation spots, playgrounds (open as of July 17th!), and our “Where and How to Play” during Covid-19 guide for more ideas for safely enjoying the outdoors in Prince Edward County this summer and fall. Some of the organized activities may not be running this year, so call ahead to verify – but I know for one that several boat rental spots including Cabin Fever Kayak and West Lake Water Sports are open for rentals.
Putts and flicks
- The County’s mini golf destination, Caddy Shack, is open for business – $12/adult, $8/youth (7-15), and kids 6 and under are free with an adult or $5 each. They offer wood-fired pizzas every day from 12-8 and live music on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons on their patio.
- The Mustang Drive-In recently had its 2020 debut – $30/car load of up to 5 people. Check out the awesome lineup here, and make sure to read through the Rules/FAQ section too – they are asking visitors to remain in their vehicles during the films and to refrain from bringing your own food – have no fear, poutine and popcorn are on the snack bar menu. Pro-tip – BYO mosquito covering for your windows!
Beat the heat
- Let’s face it – we could all use a treat, or multiple treats multiple times a day, right now. Here’s a good rundown on the visitpec.ca blog on where to indulge in ice cream and gelato around the County.
- Cool down indoors
- Although the PEC Public library’s summer clubs for kids are now full, library staff are running virtual Baby Rhyme Time sessions on Friday at 10:30 and Storytimes on Saturdays at 10:30. You can schedule an in-person “bubble storytime” for you and your kids, and your child can also participate the TD Summer Reading Club and be entered to win some very cool prizes! They are also doing a great job of managing online ordering and curbside pickup through your library account.
- Escape Camp Picton is now open for in-person (while wearing masks!) escape room experiences, and is also offering a virtual version of their Spy’s Workshop escape room experience with live in-room proxies!
- County Colours is a downloadable colouring book featuring contributions from 11 talented and generous local artists; the project was a collaboration between PEC Parents and LIFE AU LAIT magazine and launched during this spring’s pandemic lockdown phase. We have had tonnes of fun colouring the wonderful County-inspired scenes, and we hope you will too!
- As of July 31st, some of the County Museums will be open – check the pinned post on their Facebook page for details.
Picnicking and patios
Luckily for us and our taste buds, our local restaurants and providers of picnic provisions continue to dish up deliciousness for the whole family. Check out these helpful lists of picnicking and dining spots around the County on the visitpec.ca blog. You likely know, or can imagine, that dining out – even al fresco – can be tricky with kids right now. Most establishments understandably require diners to remain at their tables, outdoor play areas have closed, and most toy collections have been stored away until the return of less virus-y times. So make sure to BYO table entertainment to encourage little ones to stay in their seats while they await their meal.